(L to R): Charles Leclerc, Ferrari; Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022

“Every race should be like this” says Leclerc after Verstappen battle

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc described his late race battle for victory with Max Verstappen in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as ‘hard but fair racing’.

Leclerc had inherited the lead early in the race after benefiting from a Safety Car after previous leader Sergio Perez pitted the lap prior.

In the final ten laps of the race, Leclerc and Verstappen engaged in a back-and-forth fight over the lead of the race, both attempting to strategically exploit the DRS rules to capture the race lead. Eventually Verstappen took the lead and remained ahead of the Ferrari driver, taking the chequered flag just half a second ahead.

“Oh my God, I really enjoyed that race,” said Leclerc. “Again, it’s hard racing but fair and every race should be like this.”

Leclerc admitted that he was “of course disappointed” to have missed out on a second consecutive victory, but believed that Ferrari’s higher downforce set-up may have ultimately proved the difference.

“We had two very different configurations, with Max and Checo and both the Ferraris,” Leclerc explained. “We were quite quick in the corners but quite slow in the straight because we put more downforce, so it was extremely difficult for me to cover Max in the straight. But it’s like this. He did a great job and it was a fun race.”

Immediately after the race, Leclerc was seen giving Verstappen a thumbs-up hand gesture of congratulations on the cooldown lap. He said that there was mutual respect between the two drivers.

“It’s always been there, especially when you finish a race like this,” he explained. “Honestly, we are on a street track, we have been pushing like I’ve rarely pushed before, to the absolute limit and we took risks at the end. So of course there is respect and I’m a little bit disappointed.”

Leclerc’s Ferrari team mate, Carlos Sainz Jnr, said he felt he had made progress since last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix despite being beaten by Red Bull.

“The Red Bulls were super quick in the last ten laps after the tyres cooled down on the Safety Car, and the Virtual [Safety Car],” said Sainz.

“They were flying and they were putting pressure on us. For me, this race was a bit of progress from Bahrain, I think I managed to find a bit more rhythm with the car, still some tenths to find but I think I will end up getting there.”

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2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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26 comments on ““Every race should be like this” says Leclerc after Verstappen battle”

  1. Well, the manipulation of the DRS detection point was downright silly, but it’s true that close, clean racing at the front of the field is no bad thing.

    Small sample size so far but it’s interesting that Verstappen is able to race so cleanly with Leclerc after so many wheel-banging (and worse) moments with Hamilton last year. Obviously these two have previous (Austria 2019 springs immediately to mind) but it’s good that the respect is still there. For now, at least.

    1. I really hope it stays respectful between Max and Charles, because the behavior last year was downright disgusting at times. And I think its time to call Verstappen’s driving last year what it was. Dangerous and unsporting. I was a Max fan until he pushed too far, and Brazil and Jeddah were just the most egregious.
      Compare turn 1 vs Sainz this year with the same corner and Hamilton last year. When I saw it I was shocked at how much space Max left Sainz.
      Then compare Max and Charles at the last corner. They were both being silly but at no point did it reach last year’s farcical nature. At one point, Charles was on the outside going into the last corner and Max left him plenty of room.
      Even looking at Perez and Sainz, and the way he gave the position back immediately after the restart even at a spot on the track where it was disadvantageous to them, vs what Max was doing with Lewis last year when instructed to give the position back. Its clear that RB and Max were pushing the limit last year.

      1. It is hard to be fair against someone who intentionally sends you to the hospital and then celebrates it

        1. Delusion. You cannot prove that intention at all.

          1. Well, nobody talks about real intention…. cause that would mean a ban from the sport.

        2. Again the usual blind orange accusation. HAM was alongside, VER braked late, took much speed into the corner and cut far to the inside line. With a little bit less aggressive and stubborn driving they would have driven through the corner side by side. HAM was not deemed fully at fault by the stewards, and many drivers said it was a racing incident. But blind orange fans speak about an assault – stupid.

  2. I agree. Hopefully, the remaining season will regularly feature close battles between these two.

  3. Brilliant battle, best fight I saw in life!
    So intelligent driving by Charles.
    He was again bullied from Max like Max always dose on the restart but he showed the muscles, puted Max on a dirty side of the track.

    This car are best cars we ever had!

  4. The good thing about this year’s battle so far is that two drivers are battling it out hard but fairly. While the championship last year was incredibly close, we had two drivers who when battled on track it meant only two things: either they crashed or one of them got an unfair advantage through leaving the track/pushing the other one off

    1. Yep, true. And the catalyst is missing in this battle. So its clean and fair.
      But its the new generation. They do not need attacks on peoples life to win a home race.
      They do not like to loose, but they also see the bright side of it.
      Fair and hard fighting on track.. great stuff.
      Missed that for years..

      1. how distorted your reality is. Last years aggressor was the paper champ

        1. Noframingplease (@)
          27th March 2022, 21:45

          @romtrain Yes, dream on…

        2. Of course, the seven-year paper champ, beginning with the Crashgate-gifted WDC

        3. Verstappen’s 2021 is the most deserved title in years, he lost more points through bad luck than hamilton did in abu dhabi. Don’t forget: red bull didn’t win the constructor, you need to go back to hamilton’s 2008, hakkinen’s 1999 or schumacher’s 1994 for something like that to happen again.

      2. Thats because there is no misplaced entitlement amongst these youngsters

  5. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    27th March 2022, 21:12

    Loved the fight and the mutal respect (same in Bahrein), but at the same time it’s inevitable that it’s going to turn sour. Just as with Binotto and Horner having a nice chat during the red flag yesterday. You just know there’s going to be a ‘Silverstone 2021’ between Leclerc and Verstappen which will ruin everything.

    It’s a shame really, as you can see how comfortable Ferrari and Red Bull are (same with the drivers); they are all likable and are both happy that Mercedes binned it.

    1. ferrari are not in the position of doing what Mercedes does.

    2. As a Ferrari fan I think we’re too egotistical and self-important to do that
      I think that’s one point where it works well as you don’t associate the Ferrari brand with that
      We prefer arm twisting in the background

  6. If we can get racing like this without DRS then yeah I’d love to see it more often.

    But i just don’t enjoy it when DRS is as powerful/effective as it was today because the racing then starts to feel artificial. And when you throw the detection point games into it as well it just starts to get silly.

    I just really want to get back to racing that isn’t reliant on DRS or any other artificial gimmicks.

    I don’t want it to come down to if a driver can get within 1 second at a certain point to be able to hit the button to open the wing when they get to a line/marker board.

  7. The racing has been hard, but extremely fair this season so far. Wonder why that is? What has changed since last season? Who isnt involved in this hard but fair racing so far? Hmmmmm!!

    1. What has changed is that we havent seen the monza/brazil/saudi kind of driving so far. Plenty of time for that still.
      Or you know, Verstappen being 26 points behind before the race miiiiight force him to think about the long game for once.

    2. Hope I’m wrong and the racing remains clean the entire season, but I think it’s just that these are the first races of the season and still a long way to go and many chances to turn things around, then we didn’t have a Silverstone moment yet. Anyway, between these 2, LEC is the gentleman racer for sure.

  8. Aditya (@adityafakhri)
    28th March 2022, 0:25

    It looked exciting, but deep down I felt it shouldn’t be like this. DRS and its detection diminish the value of the battle. It’s like Crash Bandicoot stealing a dash from Coco, but I guess it’s just me who didn’t get used to it after so many years

    1. Absolutely, good racing but definitely it’s worth a shot without drs, if passing becomes impossible re-enable it.

  9. Really great battle and race, the drivers (and cars) delivered.

    I think the drs was seen to be too powerful because of how close in performance lec and verst were. Nothing to seperate them, so any performance difference would immediately show.
    The DRS around the circuit were fine as they facilitated some good overtakes, the home straight one should be greatly reduced though

  10. I’ve always enjoyed pursuit cycling, so I found the DRS detection line tactics enjoyable and not silly at all.

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